The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The Manitoba government announced on Wednesday that it’s launching a 28-day campaign to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to all eligible personal care home residents across the province.

“Our number one priority continues to be protecting our most vulnerable Manitobans and ensuring our health-care system’s there for all Manitobans when they need it,” said Premier Brian Pallister.

Pallister made the announcement at a news conference, saying that by early March every eligible resident will have received both doses of the vaccine.

The 28-day campaign will begin on Jan. 11.

Over this first week, focused immunization teams will visit seven facilities and vaccinate about 1,157 people at:

1. Boyne Lodge in Carman, Man., in the Southern Health-Santé Sud region;

2. Charleswood Care Centre in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority;

3. Hillcrest Place in Brandon, Man., in the Prairie Mountain Health Authority;

4. Oakview Place in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority;

5. St. Paul’s Residence in The Pas, Man., in the Northern Health Region;

6. Tudor House in Selkirk, Man., in the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority; and

7. Tuxedo Villa in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

The province noted that the prioritization of the care homes is determined through an evidence-based approach that looks at the vulnerability of the facility based on the number of residents and the percentage of shared beds.

Manitoba has created a week-by-week plan to immunize 9,834 people in personal care homes with the first dose of a vaccine within 28 days of the campaign launch, as long as the federal government continues to deliver the vaccine to Manitoba as expected. The same schedule will then be repeated to give the second doses of the vaccine.

“We want to make sure that our seniors in the personal care homes that they are looked after because they’re vulnerable,” Pallister said.

“As we know, significant fatalities have occurred in personal care homes right across the world, and our folks that live in them deserve our protection.”

All eligible residents and personal care homes will be a part of this campaign as long as they consent to immunization.

The province will be offering the vaccine to all facilities, whether or not they’ve had an outbreak, are having an outbreak or have never had an outbreak. Residents will be offered the vaccine even if they’ve previously tested positive for COVID-19, as long as they don’t have any other medical conditions that would stop them from getting the vaccine.

“It is our intent to reach every personal care home in Manitoba in the first 28 days of the program,” said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical officer of health and part of the Manitoba COVID-19 vaccine task force.

The province will release the full personal care home immunization schedule next week.

“We’ve built a plan to immunize some of our most vulnerable people as quickly as possible,” the premier said. 

“Now we know we can bring the vaccine out to them safely, without them having to come, for example, into Winnipeg to a super site.”

Reimer said the eligibility criteria in the personal care home will not consider whether or not they’ve had a history of COVID-19 infection, but if an individual is currently showing COVID-19 symptoms, they would not be eligible to be immunized while symptoms are present.

Reimer said health-care workers in the care homes who are eligible for a vaccine can make an appointment to receive one. Those who aren’t eligible yet need to continue following health guidelines and practices, including wearing personal protective equipment while working.

FIRST NATIONS

Pallister added that 7,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine have now been delivered to the province, with the majority of these doses going to First Nations communities. 

“Moderna is the one, unlike Pfizer, which has got to be vaccinated very close to where it’s stored, Moderna has the ability to be mobilized to outside areas,” the premier said.

Pallister added of the first shipment, 5,300 doses will go to First Nations.

“We have plans already to ship them to areas selected by First Nations health leadership and set up a respectful process with our First Nations’ leaders, as partners, to deploy vaccines in northern and remote communities,” he said.

This week Manitoba opened its first immunization super site in Winnipeg at the RBC Convention Centre. As of now, the province has announced plans to open two more – one in Brandon at the Keystone Centre that will open in January and one in Thompson at the airport that will open in February. 

VACCINATION TOTALS

In the vaccine bulletin sent Wednesday afternoon, the province said 871 more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered at the COVID-19 vaccination super site.

Since immunization began in December, 5,165 Manitobans have been immunized against COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning.

Manitoba said to date, it has received 22,230 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and is expecting approximately 9,360 doses next week.